Attribution identifying the source of information or
opinion is needed in almost every paragraph. The
Besides the organization of the story, the JO must
be aware of other problems in the speech story.
writer must make it clear who is talking. Thus the writer
should include attribution often. Beginners should
attribute every sentence expressing opinion, for too
often the reader forgets, and it seems the writer is
making the statements in the story.
Attribution may consist merely of the phrase he
said. However, to be sure the reader does not forget
who the speaker is, the writer should occasionally insert
the speakers name. The writer may put the attribution
at the beginning, middle or end of the sentence, but the
natural place for attribution is at the end of the sentence.
When writing a speech story, never use such words,
approached either directly or through his public
affairs staff for a copy of the speech if it is not
unless quoted, as I, our, us, we, me, you or
your. Standing alone, these words represent the
writers viewpoint. So, if the speaker says our country
needs more nuclear surface ships, the writer says: The
United States needs more nuclear surface ships. If the
speaker says I, it means just that and not the
SAID AND OTHER VERBS
Many reporters covering speeches are tempted to
use vivid words to describe how the speaker talked.
Unfortunately, the truth often conflicts with the vivid
verbs. The best verb to use is said. Here is the natural
and neutral link between the speaker and what he said.
But many writers feel their creativity is stifled by using
too many saids. There are, of course, synonyms like
cajoled, pleaded, beseeched, asked,
declared and thousands of others that can often be
used for variety.
murmured, digressed, asserted, told
When using these words to describe how the
speaker expressed himself, be sure you describe the
speakers emotions accurately. Always be alert to exact
meaning and connotation.
PAINTING A PICTURE
To add more color to the story, the writer may
occasionally describe interesting hand movements or
gestures the speaker made. An example appeared earlier
in this chapter when Petty Officer Tyler emphasized a
point as he stroked his bushy black hair.
When former Russian Premier Khrushchev
removed his shoe and pounded it on a table at the United
Nations, every story covering his speech included it high
in the account. Most speakers will not be that
flamboyant, but they may raise a hand toward the ceiling
or pound on the lectern for emphasis. An occasional
mention of this adds flavor to the story and points up
what the speaker feels is important.
GETTING THE FACTS
Before writing the speech story, you must get the
facts. Most reporters depend on tape recordings or a
copy of the speech. Frequently, a speaker may be
supplied in advance.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you
must rely on your own note-taking to gather facts, make
sure you get the main points of the speech. A JO is not
expected to be a stenographer, but you will still be held
accountable for what you write. So listen carefully and
write those quotes accurately.
Most professional reporters have their own system
of note taking, which usually consists of shortcuts. For
example, a writer may drop all vowels from words
sailor becomes sir, soldier becomes sldr, and so on.
Similarly, the reporter may not dot the i s and cross
the ts when writing rapidly. If you want to write down
the word responsibility, you might dash off respons
and later, when looking over the notes, the scribbling
will be understood. Use your notes while they are fresh
in your mind.
By using a homemade shorthand, you can listen to
the meaning of the speech. You are waiting for the
important points of the speech, not mechanically
copying down every word as a stenographer does.
In summary, remember the following key ideas
about speech stories:
The most important fact goes in the lead (what
and who said it).
Use ellipses to handle long quotations.
Use the quote-summary method to organize the
Learn to attribute information or opinion in the
Use vivid words carefully.